Some animals thrive while others struggle in South Mississippi c - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Some animals thrive while others struggle in South Mississippi cold snap

Smaller birds aim to build fat reserves in cold weather Smaller birds aim to build fat reserves in cold weather
MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) -

While the frigid weather over the past week has left people looking for warmth, wildlife for the most part, in south Mississippi appears to be thriving.

"You'll see pelicans and things like that will be cruising along looking for fish and they tend to go toward the upper parts of the stream because the fish get concentrated there," said Research Professor Mark Woodrey from Mississippi State.

Woodrey says the biggest issue birds, and other wildlife face is a deep freeze.

"The one time it really can become problematic for a lot of the birds here is if we get ice," he said. "Where it covers up the fruit and it just covers up all of their food resources."

At the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, Erin Parker noticed a pair of bald eagles tending to their young, and a feeding frenzy of sorts as the temperature of the water has dropped.

"Our fish get stunned real easily," Parker said. "They're probably less able to cope, some species are less able to cope with changing water temperatures and so that's actually providing a buffet for the birds because the fish are either moving real slowly, they're in places they wouldn't normally be, or unfortunately some of them are dying in large numbers."

While humans deal with the cold by adding layers or seeking shelter, she points out that animals have a much simpler approach.

"Animals migrate, they adapt, or they die," Parker said. "That's how they're able to cope with winter temperatures."

Woodrey has noticed that large birds merely follow the food as it moves to warmer water, but the smaller birds seem to have more trouble in the cold.

"The birds down here, based on the research that we've been involved in, they don't really carry a lot of fat because, pretty much the assumption is, I can get food any time I want, wherever I want," Woodrey said.

Parker acknowledged that not all animals are cut out to deal with the cold.

"This is the time of year that if you're seeing manatees or dolphins, manatees in particular, they're going to get cold stressed," she said. "So those are animals that, if they wait until the last minute and then they get stuck with one of these cold snaps, they're really in trouble."

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